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FIRST-PERSON: Secularists v. traditionalists

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–“The essence of war is a violent clash between two hostile, independent, and irreconcilable wills, each trying to impose itself on the other,” observed Marine Corps General A.M. Gray. Given this definition, it is clear America is in the midst of a conflict that is indeed a war — a cultural war.

Presently in America there exists two competing views of a preferred future for our nation.

One vision is held by secularists. Those who embrace this philosophy downplay and even deny the significant role religion in general, and Christianity in particular, has had in the history of the United States.

Secularists mock at the notion that America was founded on Christian principles. As far as they are concerned, a philosophy rooted in the Bible is about as relevant to American society as ice skates are to scuba diving. If secularists have their way, American society will be free from any and all Christian influence.

Traditionalists hold the opposite view. They recognize and value the contribution Christianity has made in shaping the United States. They believe that America was established on the self-evident truth found in the Bible. While eschewing the idea that there should be a state church or a national religion, traditionalists assert that Christian ideals are healthy and necessary for the long-term well being of America.

Secularists and traditionalists both believe that the preferred future of America hinges on their particular point of view prevailing. As such, each is willing to do battle for the sake of their cause. Hence, the reality of the culture war in America.

Hard-core secularists and passionate traditionalists are not wont to compromise. Any ground given to the opposition is seen as too much ground.

This was never more evident than in the recent recall election in California. In the final days of the campaign, Republican candidate for governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was hit by an unprecedented attack by The Los Angeles Times.

The Golden State’s largest newspaper reported allegations by 15 women who claimed they were victims of sexual harassment at the hands, literally, of the candidate. If that were not enough, the L.A. Times also ran a story implying that Schwarzenegger could well be a closet Nazi.

The severity of the allegations and the vehemence with which they were reported have serious implications. Either Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Republican version of Bill Clinton or the L.A. Times has stooped to new level of yellow journalism.

If the news reports are true, then Californians have elected a fascist womanizing pig to their state’s highest office. If the L.A. Times was simply trying to derail Schwarzenegger because he was Republican and leading in all the polls, their journalistic integrity should be called into question.

It is debatable whether Arnold Schwarzenegger qualifies as a bona fide traditionalist (in my mind the real traditionalist running in the recall election was state Sen. Tom McClintock). However, in the estimation of the secularist L.A. Times, a Schwarzenegger victory would represent a conservative shift in California politics. Thus, it seems he had to be stopped at any cost.

Like it or not, a culture war is being waged throughout America. And given the atmosphere of the recent election in California, the battles seem to be intensifying.

A line is being drawn in the sand. Secularists who wish to abolish religious influence in general, and Christian principles in particular, are on one side. Traditionalists who believe the hope of America lies in anchoring our nation in the time-honored principles and values found in the Bible are on the other. Who will prevail? Only time will tell, but we all have a stake in the outcome because the destiny of our country hangs in the balance.
Kelly Boggs’ column appears each Friday in Baptist Press. He is pastor of Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs